TOMAHAWK - Most people know the Northwoods for its beautiful woods. But it's no easy job protecting these forests. However, a newly appointed council member is up to the challenge.
Thomas Hittle, the Director of Forestry and GIS Operations at Steigerwaldt Land Services in Tomahawk, is a new council member. He was appointed to Governor Walker's Council on Forestry.
"The Council's role is to advise the Governor and the legislature and the Department of Natural Resources on issues that relate to the sound and sustainable forest management of Wisconsin's forest resources," says Tom Hittle, Steigerwaldt Forestry and GIS Operations Director.
Hittle works daily with forestry issues like logging and timber management. He said the appointment is a huge honor but also a big responsibility.
"Having worked in the industry here in Wisconsin for the past 28 years, I recognize the important part that it plays in not only our local economy but the state economy as a whole," says Tom Hittle.
The Council is made up of 18 members from across the state. It consists of forest land owners and managers, as well as members from the forest and timber industry.
Group targets land for off-road park, offering charter memberships
FOREST COUNTY - Forest Count and Wisconsin Off-Road Vehicle Park Inc. (WORVPI) have found a 10,000 acre plot of land they would like to buy for an off-road park, according to WORVPI President John Schnorr.
Schnorr wouldn't discuss the exact location in Forest County, but said they would hope to buy the parcels by June 2014. Right now they’re contracting an engineering firm to evaluate the land.
"That's so environmental concerns can be met," Schnorr said. "We'll look at that as well as a pleasurable experience for an off-road visitor who is going to come up and spend hopefully a weeks vacation in Forest County."
Forest County leaders believe an off-road park could help bring more tourists to the area, and with that more money. The county has the fifth worst unemployment rate, 7.9 percent, in Wisconsin.
WORVPI used Ripon College to perform a feasibility study on the off-road park. It says the average off-roader will travel 300 miles to visit an off-road park. It also projected an off-road park could bring in nearly $28 million per year for Forest County businesses.
"It will take us some time to operate and open it up and develop the trails, the camp sites, the amenities inside," Schnorr said. "Realistically we could see an opening date of Memorial Day of 2015."
The park would host ATVs, motorcycles and other vehicles on off-road trails.
People can help fund the park by purchasing $150 charter membership passes. More than 30 have already been purchased. Schnorr says only 100 will be available.
"The pass will entitle the holder to a park pass, an annual park pass, for the first year when the park opens," Schnorr said. "It will give us some capital up front and afford them a discounted price down the road."
Even with the progress, Schnorr says the project is still in the early stages.
"If you are an optimist, you think a huge amount of progress has been made," Schnorr said. "But if you are a pessimist, not enough progress has been made."
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